I’ll start off saying this is question is probably not the best fit for this SE, if someone has a better suggestion I’m open to it.

Background: about a year ago, my parents-in-law moved in with my wife and I for financial reasons. Our house isn’t huge, so there was some adjustment, but we were able to basically give them the entire basement to themselves. At first things were fine as we all tried to respect each others’ space as much as possible, but as we have settled in things have started to change, and my wife’s parents are starting to not respect some aspects of the life and space my wife and I share with them.

As a for-instance: my parents-in-law used to live very far out in the country in a large house with no trash pickup. This meant they would often burn garbage or bring it to the town dump once a month. My wife and I bought a small townhouse in a HOA community. My parents-in-law are used to letting bags of garbage sit around for a month or more, but here we have a weekly trash pickup. My parents-in-law will often pile boxes of garbage next to the trash can in the kitchen, or next to the front door. My wife and I have expressed this is not what we want, and that when having friends over this can be very embarrassing. This often stops for a few days before starting again.

I don’t want to talk down to my parents-in-law. I know they are no more happy about this situation than I or my wife, and we have always been in great terms. Lately though, I am becoming more frustrated and my wife has started having fights with her parents again like she’s a teenager. I don’t want to outright punish anyone, but the idea of cancelling our cable TV subscription (which only her parents use) has crossed my mind.

How can my wife and I work with her parents to adapt to all our new lifestyle?

For reference, my wife and I are in our mid-20s, her parents are in their early 50s. Both are able-bodied but neither work part or full time.

  • 4
    Well, as the “parenting” aspect is largely irrelevant, have you checked out Interpersonal Skills SE?
    – Stephie
    Dec 22, 2019 at 19:26
  • 1
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is not really about parenting.
    – Buzz
    Dec 22, 2019 at 20:05
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    I'm not voting to close, as we have established a policy of answering questions about parent-child relationships into adulthood, as well as a tradition of answering child to parent communication. Having said that, I also thought it might be a better fit on IPS. Dec 22, 2019 at 20:09
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    (Advisable details to add for clarification for either site:) Did you and the parents have a formal sit-down to go over expectations? What were the financial reasons behind the move? Are they paying any part of the bills (rent/food/utilities/etc.), and if so, roughly how much? How long are they expected to stay (what are the conditions that need to be met before they move back out)? How important is it to you and your wife to maintain a good (and healthy) relationship with them? Thanks. Dec 22, 2019 at 20:21
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    "I don’t want to outright punish anyone, but the idea of cancelling our cable TV subscription (which only her parents use) has crossed my mind." Fantasies may be pleasant to engage in, but please don't. They are (presumably) stuck in the basement and this is (presumably) one of their few pleasures down there. It's also, imo, a very strong passive-aggressive move. Will you respect yourself down the line for this behavior if you do it? Dec 22, 2019 at 20:25

1 Answer 1


The word "very" should exit the conversation. It's enough to feel embarrassed.....

I'd be flummoxed, too, and I'm *******maybe******** a genius:p

The angry back-and-forth between your wife and her folks must stop immediately. If there's any trust left, scheduling a time to talk on neutral turf over tea might work.

Vulnerability and curiosity could help, as could saying something like, "How did we get here...? I want the trash to go directly into the trash can, and it's not happening, and this is dragging on & on. What am I doing wrong?" Tone's everything.

There would never be a reason at least for your wife to talk down to them, anyway. They supported her in far more ways than she may realize in her 20's.

I also understand how "hard work" takes on a new/old meaning in rural areas. They may still be stuck in the DIY rural mindset, which, in the countryside anyway, makes sense.

They may (rightly...?) see little point in getting jobs just to pay someone else to haul trash.

Perhaps a compromise could be that you could cancel your trash pick-up, and use the savings to help pay for the cable, and in return, your in-laws could take all trash to the dump ---- so long as it's weekly and the trash is stored in secure bins outside.

Or idk, maybe they're loafers and a simple, "My house, my rules," will suffice.

If all else fails, some cities and towns have low-cost mediation services, (and please accept my apologies for my implied assumption there,) or family therapy.

There may be toxic ash on your in-laws' former property now..... as an aside.... as if you have too little on your respective plates already....

Good luck😬

  • Nothing is stopping the parents from taking trash to the dump as often as they want now. They just don't want to do it. Cancelling the trash pickup is a terrible idea. They'd have better luck constantly moving the trash not in the bins back down to the basement.
    – swbarnes2
    Jan 2, 2020 at 21:23

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